There are a lot of great ways to get in shape, but studying martial arts can provide additional benefits that include at the very least a greater measure of confidence in parking lots late at night.
The study of martial arts can improve balance, mental discipline, ability to defend one’s self, and the satisfying sensation of doing things you’ve seen Jet Li do.
But there are many, many kinds of martial arts. It’s hard to know which is the right one for you.
Here is a sample of what sets each style apart, and what’s available in the Sky Valley.
Taekwondo is a Korean martial art established in the 1950s and 1960s in the South Korea military. It includes blocks, kicks, punches, open hand strikes and throws. It also involves use of pressure points to disable an enemy. High kicks and fast hand technique set it apart from many other martial arts, and is popular for women and men alike.
Taekwondo can also include the dramatic skill of breaking boards, bricks and the like, which requires mental focus as well as strength.
It’s one of two martial arts, including judo, that are part of the Olympic Games. Belts are used to designate skill level; the darker the belt, the higher the skill.
Taekwondo is available in Monroe at:
Master Ji’s Taekwondo Martial Arts 120 W. Main. Monroe http://masterjitkd.com.
Active Martial Arts 14711 Fryelands Blvd. http://activemartialartsmonroe.com
Sport Taekwondo 209 E. Main St. Monroe (upstairs) (360) 863-2562
Kickboxing is often actually a mix of martial arts, including Muay Thai, boxing, and karate. The term did not come into use until the 1960s, as a word denoting the fusion of Muay Thai and karate. But there are more than a dozen styles folded into what is now called kickboxing, most of them south Asian but also including French savate.
A hybrid of the sport mixed with dance is also a perennial favorite in cardio workout studios, with moves set to music.
Kickboxing (Muay Thai) is available in Monroe at:
Monroe MMA, 14815 Chain Lake Rd, www.monroe-mma.com
Active Martial Arts Active Martial Arts 14711 Fryelands Blvd. http://activemartialartsmonroe.com
Kung Fu is a collection of centuries-old Chinese martial arts forms, going back, according to legend, 4,000 years. Kung Fu is much more than a system of fighting; it incorporates in its purest forms many philosophical elements as well, such as meditation. Styles include the spectacular Seven Star Mantis, Shaolin boxing or wing chun, a style particularly suited to women, as it emphasizes close-range skills. The contemplative tai chi is also a form of kung fu, and is sometimes practiced with a sword.
Kung Fu in Monroe is available at:
Kung Fu Kwoon, 115 1/2 W. Main Street, www.kungfukwoon.net
MMA, or Mixed Martial Arts, is a combination of styles that heavily emphasized Brazilian jiujitsu. Brazilian jujitsu is a practical fighting skill, in that it involves ground fighting, which most fighting eventually becomes. It promotes the idea that smaller combatants can defeat larger ones with knowledge of body mechanics and holds.
MMA and Brazilian jiujitsu are both offered at:
Monroe MMA, 14815 Chain Lake Rd Ste H, www.monroe-mma.com.
Many people think of karate as the quintessential martial art, and while its name is Japanese, it is actually from Okinawa. It came to mean all Asian martial arts for a time in English, before the west grew more aware of the variety of forms that exist. It emphasizes the internal struggle with the self as much as struggle with a physical opponent, and is considered by many to be a lifestyle.
Karate literally means “empty hand” and involves strikes with the hands and feet, among other things.
Karate is available in Sultan at:
Creekside Karate. Find it on Facebook.
Krav Maga is about survival. Developed originally to defend Jews in Eastern Europe in the 1930s, it was adopted by the Israeli military. It is based on street-fighting skills; many dangerous moves illegal in competition-oriented martial arts are essential techniques of krav maga. As such, it has spread in popularity among law enforcement professionals, women interested in effective self defense, and military personnel worldwide.
It includes more than just fighting technique; krav maga may also include things like situational awareness skills and fight psychology.
Krav Maga is available in Monroe at:
Randon Radach offers private instruction in Krav Maga, karate and other discipline for $10 per hour. Find him on Facebook.